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Thermal Simulation Speeds Quieter, Smaller BTX PCs to Market


EntertainmentPC Prototype and Thermal Simulation image. Intel used FloTHERM thermal simulation software to evaluate a large number of potential designs and optimize the final design.

February 2006

Flomerics Inc. has announced that chipmakers and systems builders are making extensive use of its thermal simulation technology to expedite the movement of personal computers with the new quieter, smaller BTX form factor to market. Engineers used Flomerics FloTHERM thermal simulation software to develop specifications for the new form factor that could be certain to maintain junction temperatures for critical components at safe levels. They also used FloTHERM to create a series of reference designs that provide validated thermal and acoustic performance intended to provide systems builders with a starting point for their own designs. Finally, Flomerics has provided systems builders with thermal modeling templates based on Intel's reference designs that can be used to save time in their own design process by modifying the templates instead of starting from scratch.

"Developing the new standard and reference designs would taken a long time and been expensive because of the need to build and test many prototypes," said Dave Rittenhouse, System Technical Marketing Engineer for Intel. "So we used FloTHERM thermal simulation software to evaluate a large number of potential designs from a thermal and acoustic standpoint and used the diagnostic information from the simulation to iterate quickly to an optimized design prior to the prototyping phase. Later, we used FloTHERM's "Design of Experiments" feature to optimize thermal management and acoustics. We defined the allowable range for various design variables and the simulation software then set up a series of runs to find the values that optimized key performance parameters."

The resulting reference designs are being used by systems builders to reduce the time required for design of BTX systems. In order to further simplify the design process for its customers, a series of thermal simulation templates for BTX designs were developed. Users of FloTHERM software can download these reference designs from a library and make any modifications they wish to provide added value to their customers.

BTX (Balanced Technology eXtended) is a new personal computer form factor that takes advantage of inline airflow to allow many of the main board components (processor, chipset, and graphics controller) to utilize the same primary fan airflow, thereby reducing the need for, and noise from, additional system fans. BTX systems have just two fans, one for the thermal module that cools the processor and one for the power supply. This compares to three to five fans for the earlier ATX (Advanced Technology eXtended) form factor. Another key change in the BTX form factor is that the fan in the processor heat sink blows air sideways across the processor instead of down onto the processor. From there the airflow is directed through ducts and used to cool other components.

"BTX provides major improvements in performance and thermal management," said Dr. Mike Reynell, Director of Marketing for Flomerics. "Thermal simulation is making it possible for this ground-breaking technology to reach end-users at a much faster pace by enabling both component manufacturers and systems builders to validate and optimize designs in a much shorter period of time."

For further information, please contact:

Nazita Saye
Head of Marketing
Mentor Graphics Mechanical Analysis, UK
81 Bridge Road
Hampton Court
Surrey, KT8 9HH
UK

Tel: +44 (0)20 8487 3000
Fax: +44 (0)20 8487 3001

 
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